I have too often been very patient. I have been content to tell about the fantastic work by the government in replying to questions on the order paper by enumerating the great many questions which have been answered very fully and at great cost to the taxpayers and about which the government has found the time to make the necessary research and provide answers.
Mr. Speaker, 1 can no longer tolerate to hear only about government delays, which are quite exceptional since it is a fantastic average to have been able to reply to 90 per cent of all questions, Mr. Speaker, especially when we consider that in the last few years, thousands of questions have been asked. I find it unacceptable to use a point of order and to abuse deliberately Standing Order 39(1) in this way.
If every day after the oral question period, each hon. member read three, four, five or six questions on the order paper, there would be no end to it. But what is even worse is to comment on such a question, which is strictly forbidden by the standing orders. This is petty politics. It is a fact that we reply
March 15, 1979
to 90 per cent of all questions asked. Very often the insinuations contained in these questions are shown to be completely unfounded, and members on this side of the House do not have the opportunity and the privilege to read the replies which deny completely the insinuations made by opposition members.
Mr. Speaker, it is an injustice resulting from an abuse of our rules when some hon. members complain that questions on the order paper have not been answered. They know perfectly well that during the session, in spite of the large number of questions we manage to answer, on the average to 40 per cent of the questions. It is exactly the average number of questions that have been answered until now in the present session, and it compares favourably with the average in previous sessions.
Hon. members also know that during the summer recess we can do more work, and we succeed in answering an additional 45 to 50 per cent, which allows us to answer 90 per cent of the questions on the order paper. Then, I consider that Standing Order 39(1) has been seriously abused, and the intervention of the hon. member is a perfect example of this, and 1 want first to ensure hon. members that we shall continue to work seriously in order to answer in the most comprehensive way possible the largest number of questions in the shortest possible time but, on the other hand, I expect them to co-operate so that they do not unduly criticize the work done on this side of the House, and particularly that they be fair and not abusively comment on facts that often are not included in the questions, by giving explanations that are purely political, and have nothing to do with the facts.
Topic: POINT OF ORDER
Subtopic: MR. MCKENZIE-DELAY IN ANSWERING ORDER PAPER QUESTIONS